September Pastor’s Message

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

Romans 12

When I compare my childhood to my son’s experience, I sometimes get nervous. As a child, I wanted instant gratification, but it was difficult to come by most of the time. I had to wait for my favorite shows to come on the television. If I wasn’t able to watch TV at the right time, I would not see that show at all. I was dependent on reruns to see what I had missed, since in my earliest years, VCRs were a budding technology. There was only one TV in our house, and sometimes He-Man was preempted by the Phillies or Grandma’s “stories.”

Compare that to my son’s experience. He will never understand the idea of “when is my show on TV?” There is always the option of watching his show. Between our DVR, apps, OnDemand, Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and DVDs, it is inconceivable that there isn’t the possibility for him to watch his favorite show. It also doesn’t matter where he is. If there is electricity, or a fully charged smartphone, tablet, or computer, his favorite show can be produced for him within a minute. Obviously, the answer is often “no” if he wants to watch something; my point is, it’s never impossible.

This is just one example of how technology has shifted our culture into increasingly rampant instant gratification. Scripture is quite focused on our desire for instant gratification, and the need for us to grow in patience. Romans 12:12 is the most important verse in my life; it comes to mind every time I struggle: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”

Faith can help us when we need to wait, whether we are waiting for healing in the face of cancer, or waiting for the indulgence that follows the aroma of baking chocolate chip cookies.

When reflecting on the importance of delayed gratification, it’s important to discern “necessary patience” from petty power trips. One of my elementary school teachers incessantly used the platitude, “patience is a virtue,” when students asked to use the restroom. From what I could tell, based on her testimony, patience was the only virtue worthy of mention. When you need to use the facilities, patience can also be overrated, and messy. Delaying immediate needs is cruel, not virtuous.

For years I have said, “Be careful about praying for patience; God will most likely give you a reason to practice.” I knew that was too wise to be something I thought of all by myself, and Google tells me that in the movie “Bruce Almighty,” God, as portrayed by Morgan Freeman, said something like that.

The crux of my concern for our culture of instant gratification is that our children are getting far less practice delaying their gratification. Responsible parenting and thoughtful living can provide the practice it will take for us to control the desire for immediate satiation, despite our technology and appetites. This problem is not new. The Bible reverberates with calls for us to be patient in our prayers, and to “be still before the Lord and wait for him.” (Psalm 37:7)

The ongoing global pandemic has certainly given us some practice in being patient. We all can’t wait for things to get back to normal. While you wait, take some time to rejoice!

  • Rejoice in the hope that some of the greatest minds in the world are working on vaccines.
  • Rejoice that many families are closer today than they would ever have been, because they have been stuck together.
  • Rejoice that many of us have had opportunities to learn new skills.

Rejoicing in our hope helps us be patient.

What gives you reason to rejoice? Spend some time lifting your reasons to rejoice to God, and ask for help finding even more reasons to rejoice.

Pastor Joel

pastor.joel@firstucchellertown.com